House Armed Services Com. Blocks funding of RRW and nuclear weapons news from Sunflowers news letter

FCNL's year-long campaign to block the Bush administration plan to develop the first new nuclear weapons in nearly two decades had its first success . This week, a key subcommittee of the House Armed Service Committee zeroed out funding for the new nuclear bomb plant intended as a first step toward a $150 billion project to rebuild the nation's nuclear arsenal. Read more here

The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a report this past month, stating that US nuclear policy needed to be reexamined before going forward with the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program.

The report, which was written by a high-level panel that included former directors from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was highly critical of the proposed RRW. The administration has argued that the RRW program would allow the US to cut the size of the nuclear stockpile while ensuring security and reducing cost. The report concluded that the cost savings might never occur with the RRW and those improvements in reliability and security would only be integrated into later RRW models. The report also said that building new nuclear weapons could start an international arms race.

Perhaps the biggest criticism in the report is that the Bush administration has not given a new strategy for how weapons would be used or rationale for maintaining a large nuclear weapons stockpile.

Since issuing a broad statement on policy in 2001, "there have been no presidential or Cabinet-level administration statements dealing with nuclear weapons," the report says. "In particular, there have been no policy statements that articulate the role of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War and post-9/11 world and lay out the stockpile needs for the future."

Members of Congress and weapons experts have said that without a clear policy from the Bush administration, it would be difficult to gain public and congressional support for RRW. "Without an overall strategy for nuclear weapons, and whether or not they still have a place in the US arsenal, you are not going to be able to gain the necessary support," said Phil Coyle, an Advancement of Science panel member and a former senior official at the Pentagon and at Livermore, who is now a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information.

Source: Sterngold, James, "Nuclear Arms Report Puts Bush in Bind," San Francisco Chronicle, 25 April 2007.

Complex 2030: The Costs and Consequences of the Plan to Build a New Generation of Nuclear Weapons:
New Report by World Policy Institute "Complex 2030: The Costs and Consequences of the Plan to Build a New Generation of Nuclear Weapons" focuses on the economic and budgetary costs of the Complex 2030 plan, the interests that stand to benefit from it, and the domestic political debate that is likely to determine the future of this initiative. This report was written by by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan. Read more here .

Government Accounting Office Report on Nuclear Nonproliferation "Nuclear Nonproliferation: Progress Made in Improving Security at Russian Nuclear Sites, but the Long-term Sustainability of US-Funded Security Upgrades is Uncertain."

Safeguarding nuclear warheads and materials that can be used to make nuclear weapons is a primary national security concern of the United States. In
1995, DOE established the Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) program to implement these efforts. GAO examined the (1) progress DOE has made in improving security at nuclear material sites in Russia and other countries, (2) progress DOE and DOD have made in improving security at Russian nuclear warhead sites, and (3) efforts DOE and DOD have undertaken to ensure the continued effective use of US-funded security upgrades. To address these objectives, among other things, GAO analyzed agency documents, conducted interviews with key program officials, and visited four Russian nuclear sites. Read more here.

New Report from American Association for the Advancement of Science:
The Role of the Reliable Replacement Warhead The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through its Nuclear Weapons Complex Assessment Committee, chartered a study in May 2006 to examine the possible role the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) might play in the future of the United States nuclear weapons program. The study was motivated by concerns expressed by the DOE/NNSA and the nuclear weapons Laboratories that the current Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) might be inadequate to maintain the nuclear stockpile in the long-term, and that the RRW approach could be the best way to resolve those concerns.

Read more here.

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